Updated: The XioSynth is, in fact, 8-voice polyphonic, says Rob Jones from Novation’s UK headquarters. Rob explains why we got the message that it was monophonic: “It’s monotimbral (i.e., one program at a time), but each patch has 8-note polyphony.” There you have it. Also, check out comments for plenty of discussion as people ponder what gear to buy.
Synth engine: Virtual analog subtractive synth. Novation says it is “essentially a new engine,” but related to the KS-Series and X-Station synths. Those synths are terrific-sounding and a lot of fun to use, so that’s a good thing, though we’ll have to wait until this ships to find out what’s different on the Xio.
Aftertouch: Channel aftertouch is not available on the keyboard, but is assignable to the X/Y trackpad (which you might prefer, anyway). I suspected that, as Novation left aftertouch off of the LE series, as well. If you’re into aftertouch, you should consider the X-Station or ReMOTE SL.
Shipping: Late July / Early August availability, as the units are “starting shipping this month.”
Also, Tom at Music thing reports that that step sequencer should eventually sequence more than just gate: “we are already in discussion about other uses (e.g. modulating the filter) so it will be expanded in an OS update in the near future.” Timbral effects as well as rhythmic? Sign me up. Novation tends to deliver lots of new features in their OS updates, so expect them to make good on this promise. (Tom, I also like the idea of “deckchair tweaking.”)
The XioSynth really can’t take my mind off the ReMOTE SL I just got in, as I do enjoy the extra controls, keyboard aftertouch, and more software controller features; I’ve got plenty of Virtual Analog synths to play with. (And the SL comes with Novation’s superb BassStation, to boot.) But the XioSynth should round out Novation’s increasingly-terrific product line quite nicely. There are other budget synths, but few that emphasize the controller/synth hybrid, and certainly not at this low price point. Throw in Novation’s outstanding templates and editing, and this might be a winner for people who want their compact synth to be a great controller, too.